Ask Dr Marla: How can I get my toddler to stop playing with his diaper?

By Dr. Marla Shapiro on January 06, 2014

Question:

How can I get my two-year-old to stop playing with the contents of his diaper?

Answer:

Every child develops at a different rate. Most two-year-olds enjoy using their senses and motor skills to explore the world. That world includes their diaper! Typically they are highly curious about unfamiliar objects. Often around two, children are beginning to be toilet trained and this may contribute to his curiosity about the diaper. It is normal for children to explore and at this age, your child wants to explore the world. This might test our limits! However, it is almost always simply a normal phase that your child will outgrow as he/she grows and develops.

Dr. Glenn Berall, Chief of Pediatrics at North York General in Toronto, says don’t make too much of it or you may increase the focus and get entirely the opposite response you are looking for.

The only recommendation he makes is to gently redirect your child and clean and dispose of the diaper contents without any stress, worry, or pressure.

It is critical that you don’t yell or hit your child. Always remain calm and talk in a soothing tone. You might put your hand gently on child’s arm if possible and redirect his activity. You can help him develop by encouraging him to behave more maturely.

To do this, consistently set reasonable limits that allow him to explore what is curious to him. As parents we have to draw the line at behaviour that is dangerous or not socially acceptable. Eventually he’ll begin to sense what is expected and appropriate and what’s not.

The most important thing you can do is be consistent in your response and the way you speak to your child. Praise him every time he stops the activity and moves on to other behaviour.


Got a health question? Submit it to Dr. Marla.

By Dr. Marla Shapiro| January 06, 2014

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